Tag Archive | Creativity

The secrets of the Creative Leadership

“Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration.”
– Robin. S. Sharma

Creative Leadership

We are living in complex, uncertain and volatile world where human skills such as empathy, creativity and complex problem solving are the most in-demand leadership qualities today. I had a chance to attend a one-day intensive course called Creative Leadership offered by CityDrivers. The trainer of the program was Eleonora Carnasa who is a founder of the design and innovation agency Fabrica 360.

During the day Carnasa talked about how to get the right leadership mind-set with the most essential skills of today: systems thinking, design thinking, creativity and strategic design. By taking the course, my goal was to learn what a Creative Leadership is and how it can be applied to my daily work and life. Here are my key take-aways from the day.

What is Creative Leadership?

“Creative leadership is the ability to create and realize innovative solutions especially in the face of structurally complex or changing situations.”
– Fabrica 360

Creative leadership 2

The quotation summarizes the definition for Creative Leadership quite well. During the day Eleonora opened the subject in more detail and presented three core Creative Leadership focus areas: empathy, clarity and creativity. These are the baseline for Creative Leadership, creating a holistic playground for organisational and personal development.

Empathy

Leadership is all about empathy. It is about to be able to understand people and have the ability to step someone else’s shoes. Eleonora gave examples how a leader can cultivate empathy in their teams:

  • Empathy causes empathy – Ability to feel emotions is what triggers emotions in others. If you let yourself be vulnerable, it is genuinely easier to connect with someone.
  • Be present – Everyone are looking for being validated, seen and head. Leader´s job is to help others know they matter.
  • Catch an invitation for empathy – Catch every smile, tear, frown and eye roll. When you notice them you can shift your behaviour and be present.
  • Go out there – It is hard to get a perspective if you sit at the office every day. To better understand who you are collaborating with, go to them and observe their routines.

Empathy

I think everyone in a team can cultivate empathy, not just the leader. Everyone can be present by asking their co-worker how she is doing and be genuinely interested in her reply. If she sees that you care, she can open up about what might be bothering her and what ideas she might have. This creates trust among the team members and confirms the team spirit.

Clarity

In leadership clarity is a critical component of success. We are living in a constant state of change and chaos is present every day. To create the optimal environment for innovation it requires clarity from the leader. How the leader can bring clarity into the team? Here are few points what Eleonora pointed out:

  • Clear vision – Leader and the team get lost if they don´t know where they are going. Knowing and communicating the direction where the team is heading is crucial for the success.
  • Meaningful values – Core values guide the team in the right direction. Communicating the core values and explaining how the team is benefiting from the values creates clarity
  • Create expectations – Clarity of goals and objectives are vital part of the success. This way the team knows where to focus on and that way effectiveness increases.
  • Constructive feedback – Everyone make mistakes, but criticism usually don´t help to fix them. Feedback can be done in a way that allows the team to learn and improve, so that next time they know how to avoid mistakes.

Clarity

I have noticed that sometimes we have so many great ideas that we forget to focus on our actual goal. I think that focusing into right matters are the key element for success. It is great when a leader brings clarity to the table, tasks and roles become into focus and the team forms one solid unit.

Creativity

I´ve been wondering what is creativity in this context. Eleonora brought up a quotation from Ken Robinson that summarises the definition of creativity quite well: “Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it´s produced the most extraordinary results in human culture”. What creates creativity in teams? I think Eleonora pointed out two most important points how a leader can nurture creativity:

  • Embrace diversity – Diversity at workplace is the key for creativity. Multidisciplinary teams create diverse ideas. If a leader can create a safe environment, it will encourage everyone challenge shared ideas and offer their own.
  • Encourage failures – Fear of failure can hinder creativity, that´s why it is important that a leader encourages to fail in that manner that the team will learn from it.

I think leader´s core role is that he can facilitate creativity in others. Meaning that leader encourages and finds the way how everyone can get creativity out from themselves. The highlight of the course was the Superpowers Card Deck, introduced by Carnasa. In my opinion the card deck is a great concrete tool how team members can discover their strengths and that way cultivate their creativity.

SuperpowersSuperpowers Card Deck

We played with the cards in the lecture and the cards helped to discover my superpower – what I do better than anyone else on the team. When knowing my own superpower it is easier to activate those powers and be at your best. I´m definitely presenting these cards to my team. If you want to get more information about the superpowers and order the Superpowers Card Deck, here is the link: https://superpowers.sypartners.com/

To sum it up, this one day intensive course opened up the secrets of the Creative Leadership and helped me to find effective ways for building empathy, clarity and creativity in my team. I learnt that when all the team members know and use their superpowers it will clarify the strengths of the whole team. Together we are more.

 

If you are more interested in the subject, here are few book recommendations I got from the lecture:

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman – The book explains the two systems that drive the way we think and what effects on our behaviour. System 1 is emotional, intuitive fast and System 2 is more logical and slower.

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle – The book offers a roadmap for creating an environment where problems get solved, expectations are exceeded and innovation flourishes.

Build It: The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement by Glenn Elliott & Debra Corey – The book provides a practical approach to improving employee engagement through ‘The Employee Engagement Bridge’ – model.

 

Written by: Marianne Kuokkanen

Where is the Groan Zone in Design Thinking?

By Salla Kuuluvainen

Abductive thinking is a skill crucial for Design thinkers. It refers to being able to stay analytical and emphatic, rational and emotional, methodical and intuitive, oriented by plans and constraints, but spontaneous at the same time (Tschimmel 2012,3). We practiced our best capability in abductive thinking in a two-day workshop with Katja Tschimmel, learning a process for Design Thinking called E6 developed in her company Mindshake.

Trust the Process – There Will Be One Solution at the End!

As facilitator I have worked quite a while with enabling better collaboration in teams. In the workshop I paid special attention to the process of divergent and convergent thinking, which is very important in creating new ideas – divergent meaning the space where we create new ideas and convergent the space where we make decisions and prioritize on the ideas. Tim Brown (2009, 68), explains that as design thinker it is important to have the rhythm of divergent and convergent spaces, and with each iteration arrive at a result that is less broad and more detailed than the previous iterations.

I have worked with the Double Diamond process for quite a while, and I was fascinated about the level nuance in the Tschimmel’s E6 process in regards of convergence and divergence, which in this process were simply not only seen as phases in the process but as qualities of the different tools. I found this approach allowed for a very in-depth process.

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The Classical Double Diamond model – only two iterations with divergence/convergence.

I liked how different forms of prototyping were present in different phases of the process, not only at the end, and how prototyping could also be a generative, divergent tool for expanding on the idea. In our group I noticed very clearly the value of our prototype in not only showcasing the consept, but also in expanding the idea, by working with our hands and thinking at the same time.

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Our first prototype allowed for lots of discussion and expanding on the idea.

Better brainstorming is what every creative team needs

Some more detailed observations in regards to creativity were Katja Tschimmel’s instructions to brainstorming, which I found great. Often the problem with brainstorming is that ideas have a very different level of detail: some are on very high level and vague, others very specific and almost ready concepts.

Often the problem in the Double Diamond method is that we tend to loose the more detailed ideas in the process of clustering ideas under bigger headlines. But in the Mindshake process the vague ideas were developed further and semantically confronted with other ideas to have more detail.

I noticed that we did not end up in the famous Groan Zone, which lies somewhere between the convergent and divergent zones of process, where the group experiences feelings close to despair and has a very hard time finding their way forwards in the process. Even if some facilitators claim that Groan Zone is natural appearance in every process and can indeed produce some of the best solutions, I as facilitator try to minimize it in the processes I facilitate, since I feel that with the right tools the groups can often avoid it.

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I think that the reason why the process felt easy was the fluctuation between divergent and convergent – in most cases people feel at ease on one area of the process but not the other, and now they were allowed to find their comfort zone in many phases of the process.

I still think I have some personal journey ahead to become a full Abductive Design Thinker, but this workshop was a great start on the path of creativity and collaboration.

References:

Brown, T. 2009. Change by Design. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

Tschimmel, K. 2012.  Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation. In:
Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation: Innovating from Experience. Barcelona.

Design Thinking – Be creative and fail fast

“What if I´m not creative?”
– Of course you are, we all are – otherwise we don´t survive in this world.
Prof. Katja Tschimmel

This is how our lecturer, Prof. Katja Tschimmel, answered the question when our two-day Design Thinking module started at Laurea. An interesting journey started for all the new Laurea MBA Service Innovation and Design students. After the module I realised that those two days were an amazing trip to a Design Thinking world – collaboration, new innovations and solving problems that required being creative and explore failures.

What is Design Thinking?

“Design Thinking today is not only a cognitive process or mind-set, but it has become an effective toolkit for any innovation process, connecting the creative design approach to traditional business thinking, based on planning and rational problem solving”.
Prof. Katja Tschimmel – Design Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation

DT mindsetThis is Tschimmel´s description of Design Thinking in her article `Design Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation`. Before the module I didn’t know much about Design Thinking. I had only read Jeanne Liedtka´s article `Innovative ways companies are using design thinking` for the Laurea entrance exams and remembered it had something to do with how companies can solve problems using the design tools. Katja introduced Design Thinking to us via her own Design Thinking process model called Evolution 62. First I was a bit confused – I remembered the process model and the toolkit from the article to be a bit more simple and that there weren’t so many tools as described in Evolution 62. Katja´s toolkit is quite complex and we only had two days to learn how to use it. Usually it takes months to experience and get to know such a complex tool!

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What makes design thinking so appealing?

by Piia Hanhirova

Inspiration, encouragement and empowerment. In my opinion, those are the most important values and aspects, which design thinking offers, and the reason why it appeals to so many people regardless the field they work in or are busy with. Design thinking underlines the deep understanding of people – their needs, wishes and motivation – and gives voice to users and customers.

This year’s Service Innovation and Design (SID) studies started with Katja Tschimmel from Mindshake. She guided us through the past and the present of design thinking as well as introduced us the various design tools based on the Evolution 6² model.

Evolution 6² model

But most importantly, she simply made us do it, that is, work in multidisciplinary teams and use the design tools in practice. So, our team, coming from different backgrounds with multifaceted experience, moved from divergent to convergent along the way of design thinking process, and worked on tools such as the opportunity mind map, idea hitlist, vision statement, user groups, intent statement, prototype, visual business model etc.

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Nokia at Helsinki Design Week: Innovation in an enterprise

As part of Helsinki Design Week this year, Nokia spoke about the role innovation plays in Nokia’s present and future. It was exciting to learn how Design Thinking can have a big impact on the whole organisation. In this blog post, I share my favourite takeaways from the talk.

 

A small design team can make a difference

 

Would you believe it if I told you that Nokia currently sports a team of 19  in-house designers? At Nokia’s peak, they had over 600. I thought 19 sounded a pretty small number seeing the size of the company, but it goes to show that you don’t necessarily need a huge design team to innovate as long as you’re organised correctly (see my next point about multidisciplinary teams)

Innovate in multidisciplinary teams

With over 110,000 employees globally, innovation could get lost in the organisational structures. However, Nokia have really made an effort to ensure there are no such barriers to innovation. In every innovation project, a multi-disciplinary team is formed from the Design team, Business and Engineers.

The design process starts with a collaboration between the different teams from day one. The Product Development Lifecycle is followed and every stage needs to be agreed by all 3 groups to move forward. As all decisions are discussed within the multidisciplinary group meaning there is not only internal buy-in, but the maximum value from the different skill sets available in the group (think designers meet engineers etc.)

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Using Design Thinking to Build a VR Study Experience

What do you get when you put together a group of Laurea MBA in Service Innovation and Design students and Mindshake’s Katja Tschimmel and task the group to innovate a service for international students as part of the Design Thinking course? A crazy lot of innovation, creativity, collaboration, and learnings. In this blog post, I will go through how one group utilised Design Thinking to create a service offering a full in-class VR experience to anyone not physically present.

Everyone has creativity in them – uncovering our creative confidence

First, we learned the theory and about the toolkit for practical Design Thinking, including opportunity mind mapping, intent statement and insight and stakeholder maps.

As innovation starts with idea generation, these tools were great for uncovering creativity and helped narrow down our focus. IDEO’s Tom and David Kelley discuss in their book Creative confidence: unleashing the creative potential within us all (Crown Publishing Group, 2013) how everyone has creativity in them and these tools are a testament to that. For our team, the creative confidence was really built up by brainwriting which brought us the collective brainchild of creating a VR in-class experience from anywhere.

Brainwriting

Fluency and flexibility demonstrated during the brainwriting exercise which finally lead us to cluster the ideas that had to do with VR

Presenting the prototype

Then it was the time to create a prototype to visually present the concept. This concept test gave us invaluable feedback from the other team which we then incorporated in the service (it was great that we had to listen to the feedback in silence as there was only the feedback, no defending of what we thought – making us concentrate on just what people want and need in their lives, also highlighted of importance by IDEO’s CEO Tim Brown in HBR back in 2008).

VRprototype

A prototype of the VR in-class experience

 

The real test and the permission to fail

Then we moved on to the service blueprint which proved to be a bit more difficult than our team had thought. Now was the time we actually had to answer some tough questions and we realised that we may not have actually gathered all the information we thought we did.

In real life, we would have taken a few steps back and interviewed international students (and other stakeholders), and possibly decided that this service was not viable. Failure was an option, but for the sake of the learning experience, we decided to come up with some of the answers. Tom and David Kelley also discuss in their book Creative confidence: unleashing the creative potential within us all about the “permission to fail” which essentially means that you have to learn to embrace failure to come up with better innovations. For us, the service blueprint demonstrated well that failure is part of the innovation process and not something to be afraid of.

ServiceBlueprintVR

Pitch perfect innovation and collaboration

We were then ready to pitch our innovation using storytelling. Overall, the tools really gave the framework for innovation, directing us to the goal of being able to pitch a concept.

What was also remarkable was how well we collaborated, even though we barely knew each other. Tim Brown also states in his HBR article from 2008 that the best Design Thinkers are not just experts in their own discipline but have experience from others. After working in a truly multidisciplinary team, I can fully see how much innovation benefits.

What do you think, how has your experience with practical Design Thinking been?

Can you learn to be creative?

by Kati Kaarlehto

SID_Tschimmel_Design_Thinking

This question was asked from our lecturer Katja Tschimmel at the very beginning of our contact days of the Design Thinking study module. This question in my mind I chose to read  Creative Confidence – Unleashing the Creative potential With Us All by David and Tom Kelley as my very first book in my Service Innovation and Design MBA-studies at Laurea. I was soon to find out that the question of creativity is definitely one of the profound questions in the “Design Thinking Universe”.

Why and how to be creative is the core of the Kelleys’ book. We often perceive that only artists, and designers are the privileged ones to be creative. Too often parents, teachers or study counselors categorize us into the “uncreative” and blog our creativity. However, being creative is something more than just drawing or writing a poem and can be unbloged in all of us. What we really need are creatively thinking engineers, doctors and government officers who are creative in the way that they face their everyday life problems and challenges, in the way that they design new solutions and develop their services in their own work environment.

The Kelleys have a very simple solution to the question in the caption. At some point, you just make the decision to be creative. Then act according to your decision. And how is that done? Design Thinking methodology and tools are designed and develop to assist in that.

You should ask questions, especially Why-questions. You should leave your desk and office to observe your customers or end-users and thus learn true customer empathy. You should get surrounded with same-minded creatively thinking people and to keep up with all the possible trends and phenomena around you – a not just related to your own field of business but beyond.

In her article Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation Katja Tschimmel also concludes that Design Thinking is not merely the designer’s mental ability, but can be developed and trained by anybody who wants to solve problems in a creative way, who wants to conceive new realities and who wants to communicate new ideas.

The Kelleys emphasis open mindedness and liberation from your preconceived ideas and assumptions. They quote Mark Twain who once said “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that ain’t so”.

I recognized that too well during the work shop sessions led by Katja and where the Design Thinking tools of the Mindshake Design Thinking Model were applied. Our task was to perceive the Laurea world through an International student´s eyes with some chosen Design Thinking tools. As I have worked with international university students, way too often in the group I captured myself thinking or even saying “this would not work or this has already been tried out or this Laurea would not support”.

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If I felt a slight shame about my narrow-minded, not-so-creative thoughts during our work shop, I also felt that something truly different could take place in this class with these tools, some familiar and some new to me, and with these mates representing so different professional backgrounds and experiences.

While reading “Creative Confidence” I also felt splashes of joy and confidence – by applying and starting these studies I have definitely taken right steps to unleash my creative potential. I have definitely made the decision: I am creative (always been!) and want to shake my ways of thinking and perceiving this world and my work – with the help of Design Thinking tools but also of all my lecturers and wonderful class mates.

Let the journey begin!